“Onimakina Te Atua”! This is the I-Kiribati phrase for “have faith in God”. This phrase now rings true on an island in the middle of the Equatorial Pacific Ocean. This phrase now means something in the lives of people who had never before heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Prior to the arrival of the Daku missionary family in 2012, the I-Kiribati people did not know God; they had no understanding of “Onimakina Te Atua” or of the grace that is extended to the unbeliever upon exhibiting such faith. Praise God their lives are now changed. Praise God their lives continue to change as they learn more about God and how to live for Him.
God’s Word tells us that the angels rejoice when the lost come to know God as Savior. “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” (Luke 15:10). We know God receives glory through the redemption of souls. Surely God is glorified throughout the entire process. Surely God is exalted when we evangelize; when we lift His Son’s name in praise as we proclaim the Gospel.
Let’s look at the process; the actions or preparations associated with God using me in I-Kiribati. First, I sat in a classroom. Second, I had to prepare for the field. Third and finally, it was time to go. The classes and field preparation certainly helped, but nothing could totally prepare me for my internship.
I believe God was glorified during my class time. I believe God was pleased as I learned more about Him and His call for my life through study in the areas of doctrine, relationships, contextualization, language learning, and culture. I sometimes struggled in the classroom, but clearly see the significance of this crucial stage of the process.
I believe God received glory as I completed my field prep. It was during this phase that I was able to travel to other churches and present the ministry God had placed on my heart. This was also the time spent raising funds. May I tell you that this phase of the “process” increased my faith! I witnessed God provide as only He can provide. God was glorified as His plans were made known to other churches who subsequently partnered with me to help make my internship possible.
I also believe God was exalted during the 10 months (internship) I spent with the Dakus in I-Kiribati. There were times when God had to correct my attitude. There were times when I missed my family and friends. There were times when I felt alone, but God was with me and strengthened me, and He received the glory.
Perhaps the most difficult part of the internship process is what missionaries refer to as “first contact”. First contact is a time of uncertainty. First contact is when the missionary is first exposed to a new culture, a new language, and ultimately a new people. Certainly this was a difficult time for me during my internship. However, this was also a very exciting time. Upon reaching my destination in I-Kiribati and upon “first contact”, I was forced to make a decision. I could have allowed my fear to overwhelm and limit God’s moving, or I could allow God to take control and receive glory. I would be untruthful if I said that I was not afraid. Culture shock and language barriers can be quite discouraging. The first few days were frustrating as I realized my inabilities. Only when I began to totally depend upon God did He begin to use me. Only then did He begin to receive glory through this part of the process.
Another challenging part of my internship was “prospecting”. Prospecting, or planning and pursuing lost persons, can obviously bring God much glory. Whether it is passing out literature or just making contacts with locals, God is glorified during the process of proclaiming His name. The locals see a foreigner; they need to see Christ! The locals will follow the foreigner around the village and talk to their friends about the new arrival. It is an anxious time; a time of questions. It is a time when the missionary must walk with the Lord and reflect an upright testimony.
While most challenging, evangelism is clearly the most rewarding part of the process. The end product gives God the most glory! There are a variety of methods that can be used to attract people to Jesus, but there is only one way that they can be converted. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17). You can imagine the difficulty expressing the truths of the Bible in a foreign language. The key to evangelism is communication. The key to communication is language. To say that learning the I-Kiribati language was difficult would be a gross understatement of facts. After 10 months, I still feel as if I know little of the I-Kiribati language. Still, you can imagine my joy when I first was able to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Kiribati tongue. I was overjoyed! Language learning is instrumental to the process of evangelism, and evangelism is why missionaries commit their lives to God. “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;” (Revelation 5:9).
I thank God for my classroom studies and for the time spent preparing for the field. I praise God for allowing me to spend over 10 months in I-Kirabati with the Dakus, but most of all, I thank God for being patient with me as I worked through the processes. He received the glory through it all.